Thursday, January 24, 2013

La Vie en Rose

While moving house, I had the great pleasure of unpacking my oooold 33rpm record -- don't laugh, I have about 300, collected over years and years, and some of my favorite music is on them. Many albums were never issued on CD, to my knowledge -- or, if they were, I never saw them. One such album is a collection which includes "La Vie en Rose" -- the original music, by Carl Maria von Weber, which I don't think has much, if anything, to do with the 2007 movie about Edith Piaf...

The music got me to remembering a videoclip I saw decades (ouch!) ago: Mikhail Barynshikov dancing "The Spetre of the Rose" to this music. It was one segment in a long documentary series hosted by Margot Fonteyn, and I'd literally forgotten about it, till I unearthed the vinyl album. What a memory jogger!

Next stop, YouTube, and whaddaya know! Check this out, folks:

UPDATE: since I posted this, something has happened to this video, making it not play. I'll leave the link, in case it comes back on line, but for the moment ... well, dang. No video. Grrr.

...Baryshnikov in his late twenties, or at about thirty years of age. Glorious? Oh, yeah. And in turn this got me to thinking about art, and Sepctre de la Rose was the perfect vehicle via which to explore something I've wanted to do since before the house moving started. Back in October and November last year, prior to the Era of Boxes, Bubblewrap and Stickytape, I was speculating about art composited in Photoshop in layers. A ha! Here was the opportunity.

The background in this piece is a photograph of the trees near the "bog garden" at Loftia Gardens, on the shoulder of Mount Lofty, South Australia, which I took about three years ago. The foreground flowers were photographed in 2008 in Handorf, SA, right after a rain shower. The figure was designed last October for another project...

...and the composition was done this afternoon, including a lot of painting, especially the hair:

The hair was panted in three layers, using my Wacom Bamboo, which was my birthday pressie last year, and which I love so much, if the house was burning down, it's one of the few things I'd grab on my way out the door (any family members inside, including puddy-tat; cash, credit cards and ID; cell phone, turned on and calling 000 even as I dove for the Wacom Bamboo. We don't call 911 or 999 in this country. Do I have time to grab a change of clothes, too? Rats. Go for the Wacom Bamboo instead). 

With the figure posed, lit and rendered, the picture was combined in three layers: blurred out background ... on top of that, the figure ... on top of that, the foreground roses, which started life as two different photos. Next, the light and shadows were painted in, in colors -- he's highlighted in red on one side, by light striking up off the rose, and by in green on the other side, by light filtering in from the trees. All the other stuff, like "god rays" through the trees and motes in the air, highlights and shadows on the rose, and some "atmospherics" around the edges, were all painted at this point too ... but the hair is what makes it immediately "real."

Juxtaposing real images with 3D models can be risky, because images of reality tend to make the models worked into them look rather fake. But if you're clever with the lights and shadows, you can get away with it, and I think I did, in this one. The image was rendered at 3000 pixels wide, to give me the ability to get in there and paint tiny details, and then resized, and the version I've uploaded here is 2000 wide, so you can actually see those details.

Speaking of seeing details, there came a knock at the door today, when I hadn't expected a delivery truck till next week. That was fast! Two days ago, there was a catalog in the physical mailbox, down at the gate, from a company called -- that's the name, MLN. They're having this fantastic sale, with enormous discounts on big, big, huge monitors. Like, a full HD, LED 24" from LG, for A$167, still under A$200 with shipping? Now, how was I going to go past that?! Two days later, it's sitting on the desk beside me, with the NARC movie poster displayed as the wallpaper. Wow. I just did La Vie en Rose on it, and I'm blown away by the resolution, contrast, vibrancy, color register.  So nice!

Thanks once again go to Dave for saying, "Get it. Get it! Get it!!" Part of me still hesitates to just bite on these things, and I'm always so glad he, uh, insists. It's too bad Blogger doesn't have emoticons -- there would be a cheesy great smiley sitting right here!

Jade, January 25
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